Rodrigo Lopez

rodrigo.jpgRodrigo Lopez
Contributing Editor
Major Spoilers

Rodrigo is the best-known of the Mexican neotenic mole salamanders belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled. The species originates from the lake underlying Mexico City. Rodrigos are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate most body parts, ease of breeding, and large embryos. They are commonly kept as pets in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan (where they are sold under the name Wooper Rooper, and other countries.

Rodrigo Lurks in the Major Spoiler Forums under the pseudonym Beta Ray Bill Cosby

You can read all of Rodrigo’s articles here.


  1. Ben - Denton, TX
    May 25, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Stephen, Matt, and Rodrigo:

    First of all thanks for all the time and effort y’all put together to produce the Critical Hit Podcast, I’ve been listening to the episodes as the come out, and have gone back to the beginning and started from there, so I’m kinda in two places at once: just finished the ‘four against the void’ sequence from the start, and much of the ‘celestial crusade’ in the end. Great job guys, keep it up. As soon as my fin aid comes in next semester I’ll go ahead and give you some money.

    Here’s my problem, I’ve been running a game for about a year now, and we’ve had a blast. One of my players wanted to start a game, and invited me to play. I haven’t been a PC in a while so I jumped right in. Thing is he’s a 3.5 guy running a 4e game, and isn’t up on the new power curve. I’ve tried to explain that the 4e rule set starts players at a much higher power level at 1st level and just kinda runs from there. It feels like a 1st level 4e character is at about 4th level power-wise in a 3.5 game. He doesn’t get it. I’ve tried to talk to him, I’ve tried to illustrate the power level in the game I run in which he is a player, and I’ve also straight up called him out in the middle of sessions. My main problem is in the allocation of rewards for players. There aren’t enough magic items, gold, or consumables in the game. I’ve got a 4th level character whose ONLY magic item is a Level 1 Magic Weapon (+1, no properties or daily item powers). I’ve tried to craft more magic items (being an artificer) but he doesn’t allow our players to have access to any residuum or other arcane reagents with which to craft the items.

    Our party has 5 members, none of which have any better equipment than I do. Literally, not a single one of us has a magic item with any daily powers or properties, and we’re all at 4th level. Then last night he runs us against two level 7 elite brutes and two level 5 standard artillery monsters, who totally messed us up. After a many rounds of getting our asses handed to us, we finally killed one of the elite brutes, and had barely bloodied the second one, when the two artillery ran away, and we forced the final monster to surrender with an intimidate check. CHEAP. I feel like we really didn’t win that battle, it was just the DM deciding he didn’t want to kill us after all, so he had half the monsters run away. None of our successes are the result of player decisions or powers, and our failures are not our fault as players just the heavy hand of the DM who limits our player options at every turn. (Oh, and there’s a dragon in the bottom of this dungeon, WTF are we going to do when we reach him and are severely limited in our character’s abilities.) The game assumes that by the time you’ve reached a certain level, your characters are laden with magic equipment so they can stand up to the monsters that are available at higher levels. He’s handicapped our characters, but has done nothing to limit the power level of the monsters.

    In another example, our characters are Elven lords of a town on the mouth of a river where it empties into the sea. We’ve been lords of this town since time immemorial, and have faced an orcish incursion every 20-30 years. (All backstory). So during the most recent orcish attack we set up a series of staked ditches, we wanted to build scorpions and trebuchets, and we wanted to deploy boats along the river and along the coast to help defend our town. He says that we’ve lost the ability to craft boats, there is no paper, no one is able to craft trebuchets or operate them, and then the kobolds filled in and ignored the staked ditches in 3 rounds completely eliminating any of the clever ideas we as players put forward to defend the town. My fiancee wanted to include women in the militia, because there is nothing in 4e that limits gender, and he immediately has a female conscript raped by fellow militia members. Really!?! He literally rapes a woman in game to cut off a player idea at the knees.

    Now tell me, what was the point of all that prep if he’s just going to wipe it all away with a wave of his DM wand? Its like he’s got an idea of where he wants his story to go and all us pesky players are just spoiling it for him. Can you name a single human settlement in the history of the world that has established a stronghold at the mouth of a river and can’t make a boat? Pacific islanders inhabited all of the South Sea thousands of years ago with canoes. No paper? Are you kidding me? I can make you a sheet of paper right now with the lint out of my dryer. Are you telling me that a city ruled by elves for thousand of years, surrounded by lush forest, doesn’t know how to make paper? The people of Iceland have been keeping a record of their population for 1000 years, starting with leather skins and lists of names. How do a city of humans and elves not have the capacity for complicated record keeping? He says the reason we’re not getting the standard treasure parcel is because we’ve been under almost constant siege, but if that was the case, then why can’t we build trebuchets?

    I’m at the end of my rope with this guy. If you’re going to have a power limited game, don’t send us against monsters we have no hope of defeating. Its just not any fun anymore. I want to A) sabotage the campaign with extreme player monkey wrenching, like saying “my character sits on the floor and starts whistling dixie”; B) sabotage the game by walking right into the dragon’s den and getting my character killed; or C) quitting altogether. But if I do, he might quit playing in the game I’m running which would almost certainly end the campaign (there’s only 3 players and me.) What do you do with a problem DM? You’ve given lots of advice on how to deal with problem players, but what about when the shoe is on the other foot?

    Sorry for the long form e-mail, and thanks again for the great show.

    Ben – Denton, TX

    • Sol Hawk the Ninja
      July 25, 2011 at 10:39 am

      Ben, Posted some Comments for you below. Sol Hawk!

  2. Tony Meier
    July 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Stephen, Matt, and Rodrigo.

    Thanks for the great podcast of critical hit and major spoilers both are awesome. Anyways I have a question and it might be kinda werid. My daughter is 9 years old and is very interesting in dungeons and dragons because she sees me and my friends playing it. So i decided to help her create a charater sheet and i also did one and so did my other two daughters. now there all pretty young but they are interrested in the game. I am already making the game down to there level so they could follow it better and try to keep them interested but sometimes they kinda go off on there own i realize there kids and i am not playing by all the rules it is a very basic and very customize game but do you guys have any advice to help me make it better for them and more fun. my kids enjoy it and it is really cool to play a game that uses there imagination and for me as a dad it is cool to see what there little minds come up with and sometimes i add it to the game. but if you guys have any advice on how i can make it more exciting for the it would be greatly appreaciated
    thank you
    tony – iowa

    • Sol Hawk the Ninja
      July 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

      Hey Tony,

      Sol Hawk here. First off, good for you finding a way to add your kids into your D&D game. My advice is as follows: keep games short and definitely take your cues from your girls as to what is exciting and fun. Make them the most important characters in the game (good advice for any PCs, really). Use props sometimes like miniatures and provide lots of chances for rolling dice! That can be fun all by itself. Always allow an “out” if they get stuck and try to avoid serious setbacks (like getting killed). Kids LOVE facing danger, solving problems, and taking out monsters, so don’t hold back on the scary/difficult stuff completely, but always it should be with a sense that they have the ability to defeat obstacles in-game at this age. Definitely stick with the rules but don’t be afraid to bend them a little. And most of all, play along with their roleplaying! When they are laughing and having fun, you are doing a good job.

      • Tony Meier
        July 21, 2011 at 4:46 am

        hi sol hawk ninja.

        thanks for the advice. yea there having fun we even took it a bit further instead of bying tiles and maps for it i have them help me create them from cardboard i find at work.thanks again for the advice it really helps.

  3. Sol Hawk the Ninja
    July 18, 2011 at 9:31 am

    For Ben. Why you still playing under this guy? If he’s a great friend, talk it over one-on-one and maybe he will see reason. If you don’t think he’s gonna listen (and it doesn’t hurt to make a respectful try anyway), I see two options. One – just quit the game. Two – you start a game (or encourage another player to do it) and then let your wayward DM join as a player. Some people are incredible as players but just can’t handle all that power that comes with DMing. Power corrupts – and this happens to some DMs.

    On the other hand, if your DM is really new, maybe he just doesn’t know how to DM very well yet. If that’s the case, be kind and see if he comes around. Most any kind of DM is OK – as long as the players are having fun. But if that’s not happening anymore, it is time for a change.

    • Sol Hawk the Ninja
      July 25, 2011 at 10:38 am


      Hey I listened also to Rodrigo’s, Stephen’s, Matt’s, Brian’s and Ket’s reponse which they played on the air. It’s all good advice as usual – just one more thing I wanted to add. Back in the day, beginning DMs were encouraged to run dungeon adventures – in other words, make a map on graph paper and have the characters adventure through it a room at a time. Though some will consider it a little old school, there was a reason for this. First, player options were severely limited (Go Right, Left, or back the way you came). Second, player resources were limited (you can’t go running for NPCs to help you – only your own group is present – and the only items you have are what you bought in town before you left plus whatever the DM lets you find along the way). So if your DM is struggling with all the choices you can make that derail his story, maybe a dungeon adventure is the right way to go. It is a great choice for a beginning DM and it offers a fun challenge I think for characters of any level. Hope this advice helps – though I know it might not solve all your problems (ie he will still have to make fights fair) but if your DM is a bad DM because of lack of experience (and then doesn’t want to admit it!) maybe encouraging him to try an awesome Dungeon Adventure (you could even buy him one with monsters and treasure already laid out for him!) then maybe you can all have more fun while he comes up to speed. You mentioned you’re a DM, too. Probably you make it look easy. A new DM might not know at first just how much work goes into preparing a game and it might be hard for him to live in your shadow, too. So be patient with him if you can, give him a chance if you can, if he’s still too off the leash, you know, find a way to quit. Compassionately if you can, but like the guys said on CRITICAL HIT! if the game is a pit of misery for you, it is OK to bow out. Maybe it is a good idea to do it delicately if you can since the game you are running is at stake, but treat him with respect and let him know that you really appreciate having him in your game but that his game just isn’t working for you right now and that won’t help his game either if you stay in. Who knows? He may pick up new players and keep it going. That’s up to him. Maybe the other players think it is fine and will keep playing with him. But you know, fair is fair. Maybe you’ll even rejoin at a later time if things change, right?

      Anyway, good luck. It’s a tough spot, but almost every group I’ve been involved with has had some sort of politics going on pretty much all the time. It can take a skilled DM to stay above the politics and create a fair and fun game for everyone. Bottom line – maybe it isn’t always as easy as it looks!

      Critical Hit Represent!
      Sol Hawk the Ninja!